Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Psalms - Why What is Beautiful is What is Real

Fuller Seminary, a theological graduate school, recently launched Fuller Studio, a place to embrace a wider circle of voices from around the world.  This includes intercultural conversations on the Christian faith, along with women's issues in the leadership of the church, and interfaith dialogue.   Recently, Fuller Studio released a short film that includes conversation between Bono and Pastor Eugene Peterson about The Psalms from the Bible, and about The Message, a version of the Bible which Peterson translated from the original Hebrew and Greek into English in an idiomatic sense and in contemporary language - an extraordinary scholarly effort both of the mind and of the heart.  

An afternoon spent in a cozy lakeside cabin with a mug of hot coffee, in a discussion about  literature, art, and theology near a crackling fire with kindred souls, I can't imagine a place I'd rather be....

The Psalms are full of the rawness about the agony of life, the questions we have that can go unanswered for so long, and the deep sorrow, despair, and confusion we all experience.   The Psalms are beautiful because they are real.   Praying, in the way that the Psalms are prayed, isn't being nice before God, says Peterson, it's not pretty.  It's honesty, brutal honesty.   Bono said he would like to see more of this type of realism in life and in art and in music - write about a bad marriage you had, he says, write about why you are pissed off at the government....

U2 had an enormous impression on my spiritual life in my formative years growing up Generation X, and they still do.  I spent some Sundays of my childhood in church surrounded by Protestant hymns from the last two centuries; I spent some afternoons of my twenties listening Catholic Gregorian chant CDs, and now my Sunday mornings are likely to include Byzantine chant of the Orthodox liturgy, yet to be honest, nothing reaches my soul or connects me to God like the music of U2.  On that same wavelength, while I appreciate reading or hearing Scripture in any translation of the original text, I truly love experiencing it in my own context - in contemporary language that resonates with the relationship I have with the English language - including the metaphors I already understand.  This is a profound comfort to me, and because of Peterson's research and translation, we have this.  What U2 has done, and what Eugene Peterson has done for contextualizing Scripture into our modern lives, is very similar.  Many thanks to both of them for what they have done for Generation X.   As a quintessential Gen Xer, I can say that both of them have helped make my faith more beautiful, both of them have made my faith more real.

Bono often reads (or sings) from the Psalms during U2's concerts.  If you are interested in reading the Psalms that Bono refers to in the film as they are translated in Eugene Peterson's The Message you can download the first 40 of them for free here.


(c) 2016 -  writing by Chloe Koffas -
feel free to leave a comment, or to email me directly here: genxpixels@gmail

1 comment:

Heidi Rose said...

This is amazing! Thanks for sharing this video and your thoughts. Now I need to procure a copy of The Message, pronto.